The popularity of playing board games seems to be making a resurgence. There are so many to choose from. What are your top three board games to play?
Each year across Australia, The Children’s Book Council of Australia brings children and books together celebrating CBCA Children’s Book Week. This year’s book week starts next Monday and during this time schools, libraries, booksellers, authors, illustrators and families will celebrate Australian children’s literature with children’s book character parades and amazing displays.
This year’s theme is Escape to Everywhere and aims to allow children to be transported to a world of fantastical creatures or larger-than-life characters. Click through for the list of books that have been shortlisted here.
Let’s explore a few ways you can bring Book Week to life for your children.
Costumes and Make Believe
Dressing up as our favourite character for Book Week parades in Primary School and curling up at bedtime under the cover with a book and a torch are just two of our strongest memories of reading as a child in the Booko HQ. There is a vast variety of options and inspiration for dressing up over on Pinterest – here are some of our favourites…
The Cat in the Hat by Dr Seuss
This Dr. Seuss’ classic is a deliciously anarchic story of a giant cat in a hat whose unexpected arrival turns a dull, rainy day into a madcap adventure. It’s a favourite in many families.
Here are some fabulous ideas for a Cat in the Hat costumes.
Pippi Longstocking By Astrid Lindgren
A true children’s classic. Pippi Longstocking is nine years old. She has just moved into Villa Villekulla where she lives all by herself with a horse, a monkey, and a big suitcase full of gold coins. The grown-ups in the village try to make Pippi behave in ways that they think a little girl should, but Pippi has other plans. She would much rather spend her days arranging wild, exciting adventures to enjoy. Generations of children have fallen in love with Pippi Longstocking as readers are instantly charmed by her warmth and sense of fun.
Find great ideas fro Pippi costumes here.
Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
An affectionate, sometimes bashful pig named Wilbur befriends a spider named Charlotte, who lives in the rafters above his pen. A prancing, playful bloke, Wilbur is devastated when he learns of the destiny that befalls all those of porcine persuasion. Determined to save her friend, Charlotte spins a web that reads “Some Pig,” convincing the farmer and surrounding community that Wilbur is no ordinary animal and should be saved. In this story of friendship, hardship, and the passing on into time, E.B. White reminds us to open our eyes to the wonder and miracle often found in the simplest of things.
We think these costumes sum up Charlotte’s Web delightfully.
The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt
Daywalt has created a colourful solution to a crayon-based crisis in this playful, imaginative story that will have children laughing and playing with their crayons in a whole new way.
Here are some amazing crayon inspired costumes.
Pig The Winner by Aaron Blabey
Pig was a Pug and I’m sorry to say, If he didn’t come first it would ruin his day. From award-winning creator of Pig the Pug comes a brand new tale about the world’s greediest pug. Pig the Pug is back and this time he is being a great big cheat. Pig will do anything to win, and, if he can’t, he throws great big tantrums. But when his latest attempt to beat his best friend, Trevor, backfires will Pig the Pug learn his lesson at last?
Click here for Pig The Pug face painting ideas.
91-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton
The 91-Storey Treehouse is the seventh book of Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton’s wacky treehouse adventures, where the laugh-out-loud story is told through a combination of text and fantastic cartoon-style illustrations.
Join Andy and Terry in their now 91-storey spectacular treehouse. They’ve added thirteen new levels, including the world’s most powerful whirlpool, a mashed-potato-and-gravy train and a human pinball machine. Why not try your luck on the spin-and-win prize wheel or hang out in a giant spider web (with a giant spider), or you can always get your fortune told by Madam Know-it-all or eat a submarine sandwich the size of an actual submarine while deciding whether or not to push the big red button . . .
Here are some great ideas for costumes for book week (we love the tree)
Listening / Library Activities
Hearing a story when you’re little is super exciting…especially for those that are not quite up to reading by themselves. Why not check out your local library and see what story time they have coming up.
This year the City of Melbourne has some great events for Book Week. Drop in to hunt for clues with Puss in Boots, pet detective, explore augmented reality at the East Melbourne Library with sessions for 3 to 5 year olds and 6 to 10 year olds, or you can also drop by one of the storytimes and escape into some of the stories shortlisted for the Book of the Year prize.
Be it a tea party with the children, or a bigger affair with their friends, story themed afternoon teas are wonderful.
Here are a few ideas for you…
Green Eggs and Ham by Dr Seuss
Imagine the squeals of delight and disgust when you offer your children a plate of green eggs, like these ones.
When Sam-I-am persists in pestering a grumpy grouch to eat a plate of green eggs and ham‚ perseverance wins the day‚ teaching us all that we cannot know what we like until we have tried it!
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
This much-loved classic picture book follows the caterpillar’s week while he eats through a range of foods in preparation for his hibernation and subsequent appearance as a beautiful butterfly. Theming afternoon tea couldn’t be easier with these ideas…not to mention it’ll definitely encourage the children to eat their fruit!
Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
Greg Heffley finds himself thrust into a new year and a new school where undersize weaklings share the corridors with kids who are taller, meaner and already shaving. Desperate to prove his new found maturity, which only going up a grade can bring, Greg is happy to have his not-quite-so-cool sidekick, Rowley, along for the ride. But when Rowley’s star starts to rise, Greg tries to use his best friend’s popularity to his own advantage. Recorded in his diary with comic pictures and his very own words, this test of Greg and Rowley’s friendship unfolds with hilarious results.
Just look at this clever party.
Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
A mad hatter’s the party would be delightful to bring to life in your own dining room…perhaps no tea cup throwing though…we love these ideas.
When Alice follows the White Rabbit down a rabbit hole, she finds herself in an enchanted world, filled with creatures like the Mad Hatter, the disappearing Cheshire Cat, and the Queen of Hearts. Alice quickly finds out that nothing is as it seems in the wild world of Wonderland.
Colouring, gluing, and snipping are all lovely ways to bring books to life for children. For those more daring, you could always whip out the sewing machine…here’s a few that will definitely be a hit…
Ten Apples Up on Top by Dr Seuss
Ten Apples up on Top has been helping preschoolers learn to count and read simultaneously. Simple illustrations and even simpler rhymes make this apple-balancing competition between a dog, a tiger, and a lion a fun, easy place to practice sight words and phonics.
Luckily some very clever craft people have shared their ideas on Pinterest here.
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen
Brave bear hunters go through grass, a river, mud, and other obstacles before the inevitable encounter with the bear forces a headlong retreat.
How sweet are these bear hunt crafts.
Corduroy by Don Freeman
This lovely picture book has always been a favourite in our house where a stuffed bear waiting hopefully in a toy department finds a home with a little girl. It’s endearing and beautifully illustrated.
These Corduroy activities are delightful.
Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling
Harry Potter thinks he is an ordinary boy until he is rescued by an owl, taken to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, learns to play Quidditch and does battle in a deadly duel. A wonderful wizardly good book which has inspired a gazillion craft ideas just like these.
How do you extend that summertime feeling to the rest of the year? For me, summer holidays mean more time to enjoy the company of family and friends – eating, chatting and playing together. Such quality time may seem impossible within the busyness of your normal routine, but is definitely worth scheduling. Start with an activity that can involve your whole family – such as cooking, making things, playing games or reading – here are some resources to get you started. And if you are a fan of board games, don’t forget that Booko can help you find the best prices for games as well as books!
The latest version of this award-winning game comes as a set of colourful cubes. Make rows or columns of cubes by matching either the colour or shape on their faces. The cubic shape of the pieces add an extra level of game play – you can try to change the shapes you have by rolling the cubes. The basic rules are easy to learn for even young players, while some tactical thinking will ensure you achieve high scores. For 2-4 players, ages 6+
Sleeping Queens card game by Gamewright
Sleeping Queens has become a family favourite after we travelled with it this summer. It is a compact card game with a fairytale / Alice in Wonderland flavour (and this special 10th Anniversary edition comes in a beautiful carry tin). The Pancake Queen, the Rose Queen and their ten queenly friends have fallen into a magical sleep and need to be woken up. A King can wake a Queen but watch out for Knights that might steal her away! Winning is based on a little skill, some maths and some luck. Sleeping Queens also shines through its gorgeous and funny art. For 2-5 players, ages 8+
Parlour Games for Modern Families by Myfanwy Jones and Spiri Tsintziras
Parlour Games for Modern Families shows how to play silly and raucous games with big crowds and small, and with few or no props at all. Unusual games such as Farkle and Blind Potatoes join old favourites including Chatterboxes, Murder in the Dark and Dictionary. There are chapters for word games, drawing games, card games and mystery games. Suitable for ages 4-104, these games will help to lighten up rainy days, family gatherings, even dinner parties and work functions.
We’ve all been there – that resigned feeling of doing an activity “for the kids” rather than “with the kids”. Banish Boredom promises to change all that, with suggestions on activities that are stimulating and fun for both adults and kids. From art to science experiments to excursions, Rebecca Green offers a variety of ideas as well as useful tips on how to plan, manage and extend activities. Banish Boredom is a great parenting resource for any time of year.
The World of David Walliams CD Story Collection by David Walliams
Listening to audiobooks turns reading into a social activity, especially useful on those long holiday car trips. Comedian-turned-superstar-author David Walliams is the creator of bestsellers including Mr Stink and Awful Auntie. Many reviewers see him as a successor to Roald Dahl, skilfully mixing over-the-top humour with poignant reflections on friendship and loneliness. David Walliams voices his audiobooks himself – but listen out for cameos by famous guests such as Matt Lucas. For immediate gratification, choose the 14-CD 5-story set ; or pre-order the Bumper-tastic 27-CD, 8-story edition , out in late January.
Cooking with Coco: Family Recipes to Cook Together by Anna Del Conte
Cooking is a great activity to do with children – not only will there be a delicious outcome, you will also be nurturing some healthy habits and useful life skills. Cooking with Coco is a collection of recipes Anna Del Conte has cooked with her children and grandchildren (Coco, now in her teens, has become a confident and creative cook). The collection features classic dishes including baked polenta, beef rolls, basic biscuits and pear cake – sophisticated food that will appeal to both adults and children, without resorting to novelty shapes or lollies.
When it comes to spending time together as a family, the habit is often to jump in the car and get ‘out and about.’ Children want unhurried time with their family where you can just take pleasure in each other’s company. Quite often, the actual activity isn’t that important. Bearing that in mind, board games have come back into vogue and also have a secondary benefit of teaching social skills such as how to win, lose, take turns and comprehend rules together. Some board games are particularly useful in boosting number, shape and letter recognition, as well as hand and eye coordination in children.
We may have been brought up on old favourites such as Monopoly, Cluedo and Scrabble as children, but there are a fantastic range of new board games on the market that you can play together, all available on Booko. Here are some of our recommendations:
The aim of this game is for players to claim train routes between European cities in turn-of-the-Century Europe. There are different coloured routes linking cities such as Paris, Moscow and London . Players must collect train cards that match the colour of the route to win it. A light-hearted family game, this is best played with 4-5 players. This game is fun and easy to understand for younger players.
Part of the larger series of Carcassonne games, ‘Carcassonne Over Hill and Dale’ allows players to be farmers who care for animals on their large farms and cultivate the fruits and vegetables in their fields. Players must take turns selecting tiles and fit them with the current landscape. Players can claim control of roads or fields and win points when these are completed. This game is more of a relaxing, thinking game than high energy.
Pandemic Legacy has been reviewed against hundreds of board games and crowned ‘The Best Board Game Ever Made.’ Such an impressive title, but the subject matter is slightly depressing: the game is based on a fight between four disease specialists who travel the world trying to find a cure to four different diseases that threaten to bring the world to the brink of disaster. Each month will bring new surprises and your actions in each game will have repercussions on the next. The game is played co-op style and is won by curing diseases. The thinking man or woman’s board game.
A card game played using 110 cards, ‘Timeline: Music and Cinema’ is based on players placing their cards in the correct chronological order of an historical event. The winner is the person who places all of their cards in the correct date order. Great for lovers of pop and historical culture. Ages 8+.
Mysterium is a cooperative game involving ghosts, a psychic and a murder. All players bar one are psychics, spending time in a haunted house after a murder has taken place. The ghost must guide the psychics to the correct murder weapon, crime scene and culprit as quickly as possible. The final round involves psychics deciphering a single dream to tell them who committed the murder. This game is loads of fun and an easy to play card game.
Dixit Memories is the latest offering from the Internationally best-selling Dixit series. A card-based game for 3-6 players, there are 84 cards to the series. Each of the cards contains surrealist images from artists Carine Hinder and Jerome Pelissier. The cards contain images of exotic landscapes and beautiful creatures. The active player must provide a clue to what their chosen card is. The remaining players must then select one of their cards that best represents the clue from their pack. The players must then vote on what they believe the active player’s card is. We were enchanted by the beautiful artwork on the playing cards.
For more options on the board games available through Booko, visit our Pinterest page.
Adult colouring books are now ubiquitous: you can find them everywhere from specialty bookstores to your local Coles or Kmart. The question is: are colouring books for grown-ups a trend or have they morphed into a mechanism for adults to cope with their increasingly busy lives? Psychologists have found that some of the qualities of adult colouring books prompt positive neurological responses in their patients: namely those of repetition, pattern and detail. If you haven’t joined the wave of this trend yet or you’re looking for some different options, here are our recommendations for colouring books for adults:
Animal Kingdom by Millie Marotta
This is a colouring book to keep and treasure forever. The wonderful illustrations from Millie Marotta’s Animal KIngdom are reproduced here on the thickest paper yet (180 gsm) on one side only, including five additional prints that can be pulled out of an envelope at the back of the book. This is an edition for all Millie fans and even those new to her work who want something special to record their creative outputs.
Colour Me Good London by I Love Mel
Perfect for London lovers or global travellers, this colouring book captures the key landmarks and the madcap culture that is London life. Over 16 pages, you can enjoy colouring landmarks such as Piccadilly Circus, well-known faces like Will and Kate and common sights such as a black cab and fish & chips.
Fill Me In by Moose Allain
Perfect for both adults and children alike, ‘Fill Me In’ invites people to draw, imagine and complete the dense line drawings. Why not complete your own city or draw your own comic book? Perfect for the doodler as well as the colouring-in fan, this book is fun to share with a friend, be they big or small.
Dream Cities by Rosie Goodwin and Alice Chadwick
Fancy going on a journey around the world in black and white? From the huge domes of Moscow to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, choose your colours, unleash your creativity and lose yourself in a wonderful coloured universe. As you focus on colouring in and forget the stresses of everyday life, you’ll find calm returning.
Animorphia by Kerby Rosanes
Welcome to this weird and wacky colouring challenge. There are pictures to colour in, drawings to complete, spaces to scribble in and lots of things to find in these super-detailed doodles by artist Kerby Rosanes. This book features unique and intricate ink drawings of incredible animals, shape-shifting aliens and breathtaking scenes. Readers will have to keep their eyes peeled for hidden treasures and creatures scattered throughout the pages.
Doodle Invasion by Zifflin and Kerby Rosanes
Described by some as a colouring book on steroids, this book is another great option for those that love doodling. Doodle Invasion is filled with 50 unique and extremely detailed works of art by the master of doodles Kerby Rosanes. With thick, single-sided pages perfect for markers, this book is perfect for the serious doodler. The intricate artworks are spectacularly drawn and will keep even the most serious doodler busy for hours.
If you’re interested in more of our colouring-in picks, check out the Pinterest board!
Only a few more weeks until the September school holidays! The prospect of a slower pace (perhaps even a sleep-in!?) is attractive, but school holidays can also mean squabbles and excessive screen-time if the kids are at a loose end. So here are some activities that can lure your young’uns from the couch / TV / e-devices while stretching their creativity and imagination! They are also great resources for nurturing an existing interest.
These ideas have been inspired by the excellent programs run by our librarian friends around the country. Many public libraries have free or low-cost events specially designed for children and youth – these can range from theatre shows, games tournaments, craft sessions, to how-to workshops. Some libraries even have specialist equipment such as recording studios and 3D printers – and will teach you how to use them. So do check out your local library to see what they are offering these school holidays!
For those who like drawing / cartooning:
Kids Draw Big Book of Everything Manga by Christopher Hart
Christopher Hart is a bestselling author of how-to-draw books. He has guides catering to all ages from young children to adults, and to all skill levels. Kids Draw Big Book of Everything Manga is a beginner’s guide for middle-primary students, just starting to develop their own characters. It starts with basic style elements that define a manga-style drawing, then offers stepwise instructions on how to draw typical characters, poses and equipment for genres such as monsters, fantasy and shoujo.
For those who like computer games:
Scratch for Kids for Dummies by Derek Breen
If you love computer games, why not try to create your own? Scratch is a visual programming language that is easy to learn, allowing users to quickly start creating their own stories, animations and games. (Users build projects by joining chunks of ready-made code together, like virtual LEGO). There is also a version for younger children called ScratchJr available as a tablet app. It is available free of charge and has impeccable educational credentials – created at the MIT Media Lab specifically to help children learn computer programming.
Scratch for Kids for Dummies can be used as a troubleshooting guide as well as a complete beginner’s course in Scratch. It is divided into three sections – character design, animation and games creation. Like other For Dummies guides, it feels approachable – it is easy to read and has clear stepwise instructions with lots of illustrations. Each chapter also ends with ideas for extending your skills. Available in both paperback and eBook formats.
For those who love the outdoors:
Cronin’s Key Guide to Australian Wildlife by Leonard Cronin
The September Holidays is a great opportunity to head outdoors and enjoy some long-awaited warmth and sunshine. Some local councils and libraries run a Junior Rangers program during school holidays to encourage young people to visit local parks. Junior Rangers learn about nature and conservation through activities such as guided walks, wildlife and plant identification, puzzles and games.
Create your own Junior Ranger activities using Cronin’s guides. The Guide to Australian Wildlife offers a general introduction to plants and animals for a range of habitats including coral reefs, rain forests, woodlands and deserts. Other titles in this series focus on specific topics such as trees, wildflowers, mammals, reptiles, and rainforest plants. Each entry is beautifully illustrated and contains a detailed description including information on location, size, type of habitat, diet etc. Cronin’s Guides can be useful whether you are travelling or even at home – there’s a surprising variety of birds and wildlife even in suburbia!
For anyone who loves LEGO:
LEGO Awesome Ideas by Daniel Lipkowitz
Hot off the press is this latest book of ideas to help LEGO builders extend their play and stretch their imagination. Following from the success of the LEGO Ideas Book (2011) and LEGO Play Book (2013), Daniel Lipkowitz now shows builders how to create whole imaginary worlds starting from a single creation.
LEGO Awesome Ideas is arranged in themed chapters, such as Outer Space and The Wild West. In each chapter, it offers suggestions on what to build, how to build and what else to build, to help fans go from a single creation to developing a complete LEGO world. Each topic is richly illustrated, including with step-by-step instructions and visual break-downs for clear guidance.
For those who love cooking, science and/or getting messy:
Kitchen Science Lab for Kids: 52 Family friendly Experiments from around the House by Liz Lee Heinecke
Using everyday objects to demonstrate science is a great way to engage kids and facilitate their understanding. Kitchen Science Lab for Kids contains 52 simple experiments based on common and inexpensive materials. The experiments are grouped by type (such as acids and bases, sunny science and life science), and cover key principles in chemistry, physics, and biology. Each experiment includes step-by-step instructions, safety tips, a discussion of the relevant scientific principles and an extension activity. They are simple enough that young children can participate, while interesting enough to appeal to teens.
Children who like to cook will also enjoy these experiments – after all, the process of gathering ingredients then carefully following a set of instructions is common to both cooking and to science!